Tips For Touring From Scott Szikla
After having Scott on the podcast and getting the chance to discuss a variety of topics, a key point that we wanted to highlight was how detrimental it is to prepare yourself for the mental and physical journey that is being a touring musician. If you enjoy some of the points brought up here be sure to check out an in depth version of this over on our podcast episode that Scott is featured on. If you are an avid podcast listener and enjoy our content be sure to subscribe and leave us a rating on iTunes!
Pack enough clothes to last you a week (you can hit laundromats or do laundry at venues/ people’s houses you are staying at). Less clothes means you can bring a smaller bag, resulting in less room being occupied in the van/trailer. Less is more for van space.
I like to bring just a backpack when sleeping at a hotel/motel/BB or person’s house. You can just bring clothes and toilet articles in the backpack instead of hauling in your bag with everything.
Check weather forecasts before leaving:
Winter touring means traveling through snow, heavy rain, black ice, fog etc:
Prepare yourself to bring:
Warmer clothes, jackets, windbreakers, hoodies, thicker socks, beanies, gloves & chains for the van.
Summer touring means a lighter clothing load (no jackets or warm clothing). Bathing suit, sandals, tank tops etc.
Always do a van check before departing- Tires, oil change, battery, windshield fluids, breaks etc. If you experience ANY funks in the van during your drive time don’t procrastinate to get it checked out, it’ll only get worse.
Essentials I always pack:
Air fresheners for the van (With 5 other smelly dudes this will be imperative)
Change/extra cash for toll roads (tolls can be expensive on the East coast - up to $40 if you are hauling a trailer)
Ear plugs (for sleeping)
Stage ear plugs
Melatonin (if you have troubles sleeping in unfamiliar places each night)
Basic over the counter meds - (tylenol, advil, aspirin etc)
Power converters for stage equipment if not provided by your international agency
Strings, picks, cleaning supplies for instruments
Running shoes (if you have time to do some cardio before shows or off days).
While traveling it’s hard to maintain a healthy diet. I always try and eat fruit and drink lots of water daily. This will heavily improve your attitude throughout the day.
Always give yourself an extra hour or two on the drive for stops and such. It doesn’t look good on your band if you get a reputation for being late to each show, word spreads easily in the touring circuit. On the I Prevail/Sleepwave tour we had early load ins (11am-2pm) with long long drives. We had to leave very early in the morning or do half of it the night before. Always prepare to spend a little more time on the commutes.
Tips for touring internationally:
HIRE A TRANSLATOR - spend the extra money to get one, it’ll make everything 10x easier.
Arrive at your first destination at least a week before the first show. This will help your body adjust to the time change. Also if the airlines lose your gear & luggage (this happened to me flying into Berlin- I had one pair of clothes to last me a week in the winter time - never fly WOW airlines).
Always keep your passport with you in your pocket when sightseeing or being away from the van/sprinter/ venue. I’ve heard horror stories of bands losing their passports overseas and it can be a costly nightmare.
Bring locks for your backpack/luggage.
Try and sleep at any opportunity you can. Time changes are pretty frequent each country you visit overseas, with that being said sleep in essential. Try and sleep as much as possible (van rides, in the air, before/after the show in your green room).
Do research with the currency exchange rates for each country you are visiting. This will help you match prices of your merch to US dollars.
Always get tracking numbers if you are ordering merch during a tour. Ask the promoter before if you can ship merch to a house NOT the venue. UPS or Fedex normally sets a “signature required” - if no one is there to sign for the package they take it to the closest store for pick up. This happened to us in Dusseldorf on a Saturday evening. The store was closed when we arrived and we had to fly to Russia the following morning. We ended up not having any merch for the strongest markets we played in Russia & Japan.
Always anticipate on spending more money than expected nationally or internationally (sight-seeing, tourist attractions, uber/lyft/taxis, toll roads, different gas prices, food, per diems etc). Gas prices are cheaper on the east coast than west so that is something to factor in for budgeting purposes while planning the trip.
Lastly just be helpful and optimistic with any situation you hit. No one wants to be around a pessimistic or rude person on the road especially dealing with lack of sleep. If any of the bands you are touring with need an extra hand with equipment, merch or loading always be there to help. That’s how relationships are built between bands in the touring world.